Northern Ireland

'Tensions high' after latest Oldpark Road attacks

Petrol bomb
Image caption Petrol bombs were thrown in the latest attack (generic picture)

Community workers in north Belfast have said they are working hard to contain sectarian tension at an interface flashpoint.

It follows the latest in a long line of violent incidents on the lower Oldpark Road.

At the weekend a Protestant man confronting youths attacking his house had petrol bombs thrown in his direction.

There are now calls for concerted action to deal with the problem.

Joe Keenan said last October the police asked him to keep a log book of attacks on his home. He said he is already into his second book as the first one is full.

Mr Keenan lives in a row of five houses on the Oldpark Road, three of which are now empty.

At the weekend, a few hours after a republican parade passed nearby, his home was attacked by a crowd of about 40 people.

"It was only when it finished you got the crowds coming back. For no reason I can see, they came down and started throwing petrol bombs round the house.

"I went out to try and stop everything but they just kept throwing the petrol bombs," he said.

"Up here over the last 26 years you get used to it, it's near enough a daily occurrence or a weekend occurrence - if it's not petrol bombs it's stones and bottles."

The most recent phase has been going on since last year and for a while the PSNI kept a landrover parked at the interface for about 12 hours a day.

DUP Councillor Brian Kingston said police have told him the interface has the most number of attacks of any in north Belfast, but there are no CCTV cameras in the area.

Mr Kingston said posting the Land Rover at the interface for six to seven months cost about £80,000, but installing a CCTV camera would cost under a third of that.

However, Protestant community worker Gerald Salinas said cameras were not the answer.

"Really what you need to do is get to the people's mindsets who are carrying out these attacks - either engage them or put them behind bars," he said.

On the other side of the interface, SDLP Councillor Nichola Mallon said she believed Sunday's attack was fuelled by alcohol.

"My heart goes out to the residents who live down in there," she said.

"We have to be mindful that in no way is this representative of the Oldpark community and those thugs who carried out his attack have no support whatsoever."

More on this story